House Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen Sanctions Against HezbollahPress Release
Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2297, the Hezbollah International Financial Prevention Act of 2015, which would strengthen economic sanctions against Hezbollah, a terrorist organization that continues to pose a threat to the United States, our allies, and interests throughout the Middle East and beyond. [A section-by-section summary of the legislation is available HERE.]
H.R. 2297, introduced by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, mirrors H.R. 4411, legislation that the House passed in July 2014; the Senate never considered H.R. 4411.
H.R. 2297 takes a comprehensive approach to addressing the threat posed by Hezbollah by imposing severe new sanctions on Hezbollah’s fundraising channels and restricting its ability to use its funds to support global terrorist activities. The legislation also targets Hezbollah’s media appendage, al-Manar, and forces other critical designations to undermine the terrorist organization’s illicit activities.
Upon passage of H.R. 2297, Chairman Royce said: “Passing the Iran and Hezbollah bills today is a one-two punch against terrorist-backing Iran’s nuclear weapons drive. Years ago Hezbollah was a limited, regional threat. Today, it is a global threat conducting terrorist and criminal activities all over the world—one that has actively targeted the United States now for 30 years. Hezbollah has been able to expand both its arsenal and activities, with Iranian backing, and its long-established worldwide network of members, supporters, and sympathizers to provide this terrorist group financial, logistical, military, and other types of support. To cut Hezbollah’s international reach, and deny it the funds needed for its terrorist activities, we must effectively target its financial networks. This legislation targets the ability of Hezbollah to finance its destructive activities.
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the Committee’s Ranking Member and an original co-sponsor of the bill, said: “Hezbollah’s actions in the Middle East and around the world have only added to the volatility that has plagued the region. Hezbollah serves as Iran’s proxy around the world, even as Iran seeks to conclude negotiations on its nuclear program with the international community. Hezbollah’s stockpile of rockets is growing on Israel’s doorstep. Hezbollah fighters continue to terrorize the people of Syria, serving as the only thing between Assad and his own demise. It is time to redouble our efforts to stop Hezbollah from continuing its campaign of terror across the region. I am proud to support the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015 to help end Hezbollah’s nefarious actions.”
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), an original co-sponsor of the bill, said: “The United States cannot sit back idly and allow Hezbollah’s terrorist and criminal operation to continue unabated. Hezbollah poses a direct threat to the United States and our allies abroad, particularly Israel. Congress must do all that we can in our power to stop Hezbollah’s global terrorist reach. The Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act will cripple the terrorist organization’s extensive, illegal financial network. Hezbollah’s days of unhindered criminal operations and terrorist activity are numbered.”
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), an original co-sponsor of the bill, said: “Hezbollah is one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations in the world and has shown its willingness to attack around the globe. We cannot stand idly by as Hezbollah terrorists continue to transport weapons from Iran to Syria, continue to threaten Israel with an arsenal amassed in Lebanon, and continue to plot attacks against Americans and other innocents around the world. From arms dealing to drug trafficking to money laundering, Hezbollah relies on a sophisticated global financial network to fund its terrorist activities around the world. The Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015 will force financial institutions around the world to choose between facilitating Hezbollah’s terror or accessing the American banking system.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), an original co-sponsor of the bill, said: “I am proud to co-sponsor H.R. 2297, the Hezbollah International Financial Prevention Act of 2015, and am glad that this legislation passed the House of Representatives today. Terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, pose a serious risk to the national security of our own country, and the national security of our allies as well.”
Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), an original co-sponsor of the bill, said: “Hezbollah continues to threaten the U.S. and our ally Israel. We must do more to crack down on the terrorist group’s operations. By disrupting Hezbollah’s infrastructure, dismantling its operations network and strengthening sanctions, this bill will cripple Hezbollah’s vicious and brutal reign of terror. I’m proud to help lead this bipartisan effort and look forward to this legislation becoming law.”
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), an original co-sponsor of the bill, said: “This bipartisan, common sense bill gives the United States the ability to strike at the heart of Hezbollah’s financing and logistics activities. Their ability to fund and support Islamic terror cells throughout the world will now be severely reduced. By putting pressure on this terrorist group, America, Israel, and our allies will be safer.”
- allows the Administration to pursue foreign banks that knowingly do business with entities that facilitate Hezbollah’s activities;
- requires the Administration to brief Congress on the status of all satellite, internet and other providers that knowingly provide material support to al-Manar, and if a provider has not been sanctioned, explain why;
- requires the President to report to Congress on whether Hezbollah meets the criteria for designation under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act or as a Transnational Criminal Organization, both of which would further empower U.S. law enforcement agencies to counter Hezbollah’s other criminal enterprises, including money laundering and the counterfeiting of goods and pharmaceuticals;
- requires the Administration to report on actions taken by the Department of State through its rewards program to obtain information on Hezbollah’s fundraising, financing, and money laundering networks;
- requires the Administration to provide a comprehensive overview of countries supporting Hezbollah, including those governments that are not taking adequate efforts to disrupt Hezbollah’s global logistics networks.